Chapter 6. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (6)
Do you remember what content we fellowshiped on at our last gathering? (God first fellowshiped on the differences between what people see as good behaviors compared to living out normal humanity as God demands, and then fellowshiped on man’s moral conduct in traditional culture and summarized twenty-one claims about man’s moral conduct.) In our last gathering, I fellowshiped on two topics. First, I provided some additional fellowship on the subject of good behavior, and then I gave a bit of simple, introductory fellowship on man’s character, conduct, and virtue, without going into great detail. We have already fellowshiped several times on the topic of what it means to pursue the truth, and I have finished fellowshiping on all of the good behaviors that relate to the pursuit of the truth which needed to be exposed and analyzed. Last time, I also fellowshiped a bit on some fundamental topics regarding man’s moral conduct. Despite not providing detailed revelation or dissection of these statements about moral conduct, we did list quite a few examples of different claims about man’s moral conduct—twenty-one, to be exact. These twenty-one examples are essentially the various statements that traditional Chinese culture instills in people, which are dominated by the ideas of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness. For instance, we mentioned various sayings about man’s moral conduct that relate to loyalty, righteousness, propriety, and trust, as well as to how men, women, officials, and children ought to act, and so on. Irrespective of whether these twenty-one sayings are comprehensive or all-encompassing, in any case, they are able to basically represent the essence of the various demands that traditional Chinese culture puts forward in relation to man’s moral conduct, from both an ideological and substantive perspective. After we listed these examples, did you ponder over and fellowship on them? (We fellowshiped a bit on them during our gatherings and found that it is easy to confuse some of these statements with the truth. For instance, “Execution does nothing but make heads roll; be lenient wherever possible,” “I’d take a bullet for a friend,” as well as “Do your best to handle well whatever other people have entrusted to you,” among others.) Other sayings include: “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring,” “A gentleman’s word is his bond,” “If you strike others, don’t strike them in the face; if you call others out, don’t call out their shortcomings,” “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” “When drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it,” and so on. Upon close inspection, you will see that most people essentially base their comportment and their evaluations of the moral conduct of themselves and others upon these statements about moral conduct. These things exist in the heart of every person to some degree. One primary reason for this is the societal environment in which people live and the education they receive from their governments, another is due to the upbringing they receive from their families and the traditions that are passed down from their ancestors. Some families teach their children to never pocket the money they pick up, other families teach their children that they must be patriotic and that “Every person shares responsibility for the fate of their country,” because every family is reliant on their country. Some families teach their children “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force,” and that they should never forget their roots. Some parents use clear statements to teach their children about moral conduct, while others cannot express their ideas about moral conduct clearly, but serve as a model for their children and teach by way of example, influencing and educating the next generation through their words and actions. These words and actions may include, “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring,” “Derive pleasure from helping others,” “A kindness received should be gratefully repaid” as well as more high-sounding statements like, “Grow like a lily from the mud unsullied,” and so on. The themes and essence of what parents teach their children generally all fall within the scope of the moral conduct demanded by traditional Chinese culture. The first thing that teachers tell students when they arrive at school is that they should be kind to others and derive pleasure from helping others, that they should not pocket the money they pick up, and that they should honor their teachers and revere their teachings. When the students learn about ancient Chinese prose or the biographies of heroes from antiquity, they are taught that, “I’d take a bullet for a friend,” “A loyal subject cannot serve two kings, a good woman cannot marry two husbands,” “Bend to a task and strive to do your utmost until your dying day,” “Every person shares responsibility for the fate of their country,” “Nobody should take lost items that they find on the street,” and so on. These things all derive from traditional culture. Nations also advocate for and propagate these ideas. In actuality, national education promotes more or less the same things as familial education does—they all revolve around these ideas from traditional culture. Ideas deriving from traditional culture basically permeate all requirements relating to human character, virtue, comportment, and so on. In one respect, they demand that people outwardly display etiquette and manners, that people act and bear themselves in a way that others approve of, and that people exhibit good behaviors and actions for others to see, while hiding the dark aspects of the depths of their hearts. In another respect, they elevate attitudes, behaviors, and actions that relate to how one comports themselves, approaches people, and handles matters; to how one treats their friends and family; and to how one approaches various types of people and things, to the level of moral conduct, thus attaining praise and respect from others. The demands which traditional culture puts upon people basically revolve around these things. Whether it is the ideas that people advocate for on a greater societal scale, or, on a smaller scale, the thoughts about moral conduct that people promote and uphold within families, and the requirements that are presented to people with regard to their comportment—these all essentially fall within this scope. So, among people, whether it be traditional Chinese culture, or the traditional cultures of other countries including western cultures, these ideas about moral conduct all consist of things that people can achieve and think up; they are things that people can carry out on the basis of their conscience and reason. At the very least, there are some people who can fulfill some of the moral conduct that is required of them. These demands are merely restricted to the scope of people’s moral character, temperament, and preferences. If you do not believe Me, I encourage you to have a close look and see which of these demands relating to people’s moral conduct address their corrupt dispositions. Which of them address the fact that people are sick of the truth, dislike the truth, and resist God in their very essence? Which of these demands have anything to do with the truth? Which of these demands can rise to the level of the truth? (None of them.) No matter how one looks at these demands, none of them can rise to the level of the truth. None of them have anything to do with the truth, none of them have even the slightest relation to it. Up until now, those who have believed in God for a long time, who have some experience, and who understand a bit of the truth will have just a modicum of true understanding of this matter; but most people still only comprehend doctrines, and agree with this idea in theory, while failing to reach the level of truly understanding the truth. Why is this? This is because most people only come to understand that these aspects of traditional culture do not accord with the truth and are not related to the truth by comparing these regulations from traditional culture to God’s words and demands. They might completely acknowledge that these things have nothing to do with the truth verbally, but in the depths of their hearts, what they aspire to, approve of, prefer, and easily accept are essentially these ideas that have come out of humanity’s traditional culture, some of which are things that their country advocates for and promotes. People regard them as positive things or treat them like the truth. Is that not the case? (Yes.) As you can see, these aspects of traditional culture have taken deep root in man’s heart, and they cannot be eradicated and uprooted within a short period of time.
While the twenty-one demands about man’s moral conduct that we listed are just one part of traditional Chinese culture, to a certain degree, they can serve as a representative for all of the requirements that traditional Chinese culture has put forward regarding man’s moral conduct. Every one of these twenty-one claims is regarded by man as a positive thing, as noble and correct, and people believe that these claims enable them to live with dignity, and that they are a kind of moral conduct that is worthy of admiration and esteem. We will put aside for now relatively superficial sayings like not pocketing the money that you pick up or deriving pleasure from helping others, and instead speak of the moral conduct that man especially holds in high esteem and believes to be noble. For instance, take the saying: “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force”—the simplest way to sum up the meaning of this statement is that one should not forget their roots. If a person possesses this moral conduct, then everyone will think that they are of such noble personality, and that they have really “grown like a lily from the mud unsullied.” People hold this in very high esteem. The fact that people hold this in high esteem means that they really approve of and agree with this kind of statement. And of course, they also greatly admire those who can carry out this moral conduct. There are many people who believe in God, but still really approve of these things that are promoted by traditional culture, and they are willing to put those good behaviors into practice. These people do not understand the truth: They think that believing in God means being a good person, helping other people, deriving pleasure from helping others, never deceiving or harming other people, not pursuing worldly things, and not being greedy for wealth or pleasure. In their hearts, they all agree that the statement “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force” is right. Some will say: “If, before coming to believe in God, someone already abides by moral conduct like ‘One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force,’ if they’re a great, kind person who doesn’t forget their roots, then after they join the faith, they’ll quickly be able to attain God’s joy. It’s easy for people like that to enter God’s kingdom—they can gain His blessings.” When many people evaluate and view others, they do not look at their essence based on the words of God and the truth; instead they evaluate and view them according to traditional culture’s demands about people’s moral conduct. From this perspective, is it not likely that people who do not understand the truth will mistake things that man believes to be good and right for the truth? Are they not likely to regard people who man believes to be good as those who God believes to be good? People always want to impose their own ideas onto God—in so doing, are they not committing an error of principle? Does this not offend God’s disposition? (It does.) This is a very serious problem. If people truly possess reason, they should seek the truth in matters they cannot grasp, they should come to understand God’s will, and they should not carelessly spout a load of nonsense. In God’s standards and principles for evaluating man, is there a line that states: “Those who do not forget their roots are good people and they possess the characteristics of a good person”? Has God ever said anything like that? (No.) In the specific demands that God has put forward for man, has He ever said, “If you are poor, you must not steal. If you are rich, you must not be sexually promiscuous. When you are faced with intimidation or threats you must never submit”? Do God’s words contain such demands? (No.) Indeed, they do not. It is quite obvious that the statement “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force” is spoken by man—it does not conform with God’s demands of man, it is incompatible with the truth, and it is fundamentally not the same thing as the truth. God has never demanded that created beings do not forget their roots. What does it mean to not forget your roots? I will give you an example: If your ancestors were farmers, you must always cherish their memory. If your ancestors engaged in a craft, you have to maintain the practice of that craft and pass it down from generation to generation. Even after you begin believing in God, you cannot forget these things—you cannot forget the teachings or the crafts or anything that was passed down from your ancestors. If your ancestors were beggars, then you must keep the sticks they used to beat dogs. If the ancestors once had to survive off chaff and wild plants, then their descendants must also try eating chaff and wild plants—that is recalling the sorrows of the past to savor the joys of the present, that is not forgetting one’s roots. Whatever your ancestors did, you must uphold it. You cannot forget your ancestors just because you are well-educated and have status. Chinese people are most particular about these things. In their hearts, it seems that only those that do not forget their roots have conscience and reason, and that only such people can behave in an upright way, and live with dignity. Is this view correct? Is there anything like this in God’s words? (No.) God has never said anything like this. From this example, we can see that though a realm of virtue may be held in high esteem and aspired to by man, and though it may look like a positive thing, something that can regulate man’s moral conduct, and prevent people from walking the path of evil and becoming depraved, and though it is circulated among people and accepted by all of them as a positive thing, if you compare it to God’s words and the truth, you will see that these claims and thoughts from traditional culture are utterly absurd. You will see that they are simply not worth mentioning, that they do not have even the slightest relation to the truth, and that they are even further from being God’s demands and God’s will. In advocating for these ideas and views, and putting forward various statements regarding man’s moral conduct, people are doing nothing more than using certain things that transcend the realm of man’s thinking to make a show of being original and novel, to flaunt their own greatness and correctness, and to make people worship them. Be it in the East or the West, people basically all think the same. The ideas and starting points of the demands that people advocate for and put forward regarding man’s moral conduct, and the goals that they wish to achieve through them, are essentially all the same. Although people from the West do not have the specific ideas and views like “Requite evil with good” and “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring” that people from the East emphasize, and though they do not possess explicit sayings like those from traditional Chinese culture, their own traditional culture is filled with nothing but these ideas. Though the things that we have been fellowshiping on and speaking of belong to traditional Chinese culture, to a certain degree, and in essence, these claims and demands about moral conduct represent the dominant ideas of all corrupt mankind.
Today, we have primarily fellowshiped about what kind of negative influence traditional culture exerts upon people through its claims and demands relating to man’s moral conduct. After understanding this, the next most important thing for people to understand is actually what requirements God, the Lord of creation, has toward mankind’s moral behavior, what He has specifically said, and what demands He has put forward. This is what mankind must come to understand. We have now clearly seen that traditional culture does not bear even the slightest testimony to what God’s demands of man are or to the words that He has spoken, and that people have not sought the truth regarding this subject. And so, traditional culture was what people learned first and it has dominated them, it has entered into people’s hearts, and it has guided the way humanity has lived for thousands of years. This is the main way in which Satan has corrupted mankind. Having clearly recognized this fact, the most important thing for people to now understand is what demands the Lord of creation has for created humans regarding their humanity and morality—or, in other words, what standards there are with respect to this aspect of the truth. At the same time, people must come to understand which of the following is the truth: the demands put forward by traditional culture or what God demands of mankind. They must understand which of them can purify and save people, and guide them onto the right path in life; and which of them is a fallacy, that can mislead and harm people, and sets them down the wrong path, into a life of sin. Once people have this discernment, they can recognize that the Lord of creation’s demands of mankind are ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, and that they are the principles of the truth that people should practice. As for the claims about moral conduct and standards of measurement from traditional culture that influence people’s pursuit of the truth, and their views on people and things, and their comportment and actions—if people can discern them a little, and see through to and recognize that they are absurd in essence, and renounce them from their hearts, then some of the confusions or issues that people have concerning moral conduct can be resolved. Would resolving these things not reduce a fair number of the obstructions and difficulties that people face on the path of pursuing the truth? (It would.) When people do not understand the truth, they are liable to mistake generally acknowledged ideas about moral conduct for the truth, and to pursue and abide by them as though they were the truth. This greatly impacts people’s ability to understand and practice the truth, as well as the results they attain while pursuing the truth to achieve dispositional transformation. This is something that none of you would like to see; of course, it is something that God does not want to see, either. So, with regard to these supposedly positive statements, ideas, and viewpoints about moral conduct that man upholds, people must first know and discern them clearly on the basis of God’s words and the truth, and see through to their very essence, and thus form an accurate evaluation and position for these things in the depths of their hearts, after which they can dig them out, little by little, and weed them out and abandon them. In the future, every time people see those supposedly positive statements conflicting with the truth, they should choose the truth first, and not the statements that are regarded as positive within man’s notions, because these supposedly positive statements are just the views of man, and they do not actually accord with the truth. No matter what angle we are speaking from, our main goal in fellowshiping on these topics today is to remove various obstacles that arise in the process of people pursuing the truth, especially uncertainties that come about in people’s minds with regard to God’s words and the criteria of the truth. These uncertainties mean that when you are accepting and practicing the truth, you cannot tell which things are the sayings about moral conduct that humanity advocates for, and which are God’s requirements of mankind, and which of them are the true principles and criteria. People are not clear on these things. Why is that? (Because they don’t understand the truth.) In one respect, it is because they do not understand the truth. In another, it is because they lack discernment of the claims about moral conduct made by humanity’s traditional culture and they still cannot see through to the essence of these claims. In the end, in a muddled state of mind, you will determine that those things which you learned first, and that are entrenched in your mind, are correct; you will determine that those things which everyone generally acknowledges to be right are correct. And then you will choose these things that you like, that you can achieve, and that accord with your taste and notions; and you will approach, cling to, and adhere to these things as though they were the truth. And as a result of this, people’s behavior and conduct, as well as what they pursue, choose, and cling to, will all be completely unrelated to the truth—they will all belong to human behaviors and human displays of morality that fall outside of the scope of the truth. People approach and cling to these aspects of traditional culture as though they were the truth, while pushing to the side and ignoring truths about God’s demands concerning man’s behavior. Regardless of how many of the behaviors that man perceives to be good a person possesses, they will never attain God’s approval. This is a case of people wasting a great deal of effort on things outside of the scope of the truth. Moreover, by treating these things that derive from man and that do not accord with the truth as the truth, people have already gone astray. People learned these aspects of traditional culture first, and are thus dominated by them; these things give rise to all kinds of fallacious views within them, and they cause great difficulties and disturbances for people when they attempt to understand and practice the truth. People all believe that if they possess virtuous behaviors, God will approve of them, and that they will be qualified to receive His blessings and His promise, but can they accept God’s judgment and chastisement when they harbor this view and mindset? How great of an obstacle does such a mentality pose to people’s purification and salvation? Will these imaginings and notions not lead people to misunderstand, rebel against, and resist God? Will these not be the consequences? (They will.) I have more or less expressed the significance of fellowshiping on this topic, this is the general idea.
Next, we will dissect and analyze the traditional Chinese culture’s various sayings about moral conduct one by one, and then reach a conclusion on them. That way, everyone will have a basic confirmation and answer regarding them, and everyone will, at the very least, have a relatively accurate understanding and view of these sayings. Let us begin with the first saying: “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” What would be an accurate explanation of this proverb? (If you pick up something, you must not take it and claim it as your own. It refers to a kind of good morality and social custom.) Is this easy to achieve? (It is relatively easy.) For most people, it is easy to achieve—if you pick something up, then no matter what it is, you must not keep it for yourself, because it belongs to someone else. You do not deserve to have it, and you should return it to its rightful owner. If you cannot find its rightful owner, you should forfeit it to the authorities—in any case, you should not take it for yourself. This is all in the spirit of not coveting other people’s possessions and not taking advantage of others. It is a demand placed on man’s moral behavior. What is the purpose of placing this kind of demand on people’s moral behavior? When people possess this kind of moral conduct, it has a good and positive impact on the social climate. The point of imbuing people with such ideas is to stop them from taking advantage of others, thereby maintaining their own good moral conduct. If every person possesses this kind of good moral conduct, the social climate will improve, and it will reach the level where nobody takes lost items they find on the street, and no one needs to lock their doors at night. With this kind of social climate, public order will improve, and people can live more peacefully. There will be less theft and fewer robberies, less fighting and murders of vengeance; people living in this sort of society will have a sense of security, and greater overall well-being. “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” is a demand put forward regarding people’s moral conduct within societal and living environments. The goal of this demand is to protect the social climate and people’s living environment. Is this easy to achieve? Regardless of whether or not people can achieve it, those who put forward this idea and demand about man’s moral conduct were aiming to realize the ideal societal and living environment that people yearn for. “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” has nothing to do with the criteria for man’s comportment—it is merely a demand placed on people’s moral conduct whenever they pick up something. It has little relation to man’s essence. Mankind has been making this demand about man’s moral conduct for thousands of years already. Of course, when people abide by this demand, a country or society may experience a period where there is less crime, and it may even reach the point where people do not need to lock their doors at night, where nobody takes lost items they find on the street, and where the majority of people do not pocket the money they pick up. In these times, the social climate, public order, and living environment will all be relatively stable and harmonious, but this climate and societal environment can only be maintained temporarily, or for a period, or for a given time. That is to say, people can only achieve or hold to this kind of moral conduct within certain societal environments. As soon as their living environment changes, and the old social climate breaks down, it is likely that morals such as “not pocketing the money you pick up” will change, alongside transformations to the societal environment, social climate, and social trends. Look at how, after the great red dragon came to power, it beguiled people by promoting all kinds of sayings in order to ensure societal stability. In the 80s, there was even a popular song with the following lyrics: “On the side of the road, I picked up one cent off the ground, and handed it to a police officer. The officer took the cent, and gave me a nod. I happily said, ‘See you later, sir!’” Even the small matter of handing over one cent was apparently worth mentioning and singing about—it was such a “noble” social moral and behavior! Was it really, though? People are able to hand over one cent that they find to a police officer, but would they hand over a hundred yuan or a thousand yuan? It is hard to say. If a person spotted some gold, silver, or precious things or something even more valuable, they would not be able to control their greed, their inner monster would be unleashed, and they would be capable of hurting and harming people, of framing and entrapping others—they would be capable of actively robbing a person of their money, and of even killing someone. At that time, what would be left of man’s fine traditional culture and traditional morals? Where would the moral criterion of “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” be then? What does this show us? Regardless of whether people possess this spirit and moral conduct, this demand and saying is just something that people imagine, desire, and wish that they could realize and achieve. In specific social contexts, and within suitable environments, people who possess a certain amount of conscience and reason can practice not pocketing the money they pick up, but this is just a passing good behavior, it cannot become the criterion of their comportment, or their lives. As soon as the societal environment and context in which those people live changes, this tenet and this ideal moral conduct according to man’s notions will be so distant from people. It will not be able to satisfy their desires and ambitions, and, of course, it will be even less capable of limiting their evil deeds. It is merely a transient good behavior, and a relatively noble moral quality according to man’s ideals. When it clashes with reality and self-interest, when it conflicts with people’s ideals, this kind of moral cannot restrain people’s behavior, or guide their behavior and thoughts. Ultimately, people will decide to go against it, they will breach this traditional notion of morality, and choose their own interests. So, when it comes to the moral of “not pocketing the money you pick up,” people can hand over one cent they pick up to the police. But if they find a thousand yuan, ten thousand yuan, or a gold coin, will they still give it to a police officer? They will not be able to. When the benefit of taking that money surpasses the scope of what man’s morality can achieve, they will not be able to hand it over to the police. They will not be able to realize the moral of “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” So, does “not pocketing the money you pick up” represent the essence of a person’s humanity? It cannot represent the essence of their humanity at all. It is quite apparent that this demand about man’s moral conduct cannot be used as a basis for evaluating whether someone possesses humanity, and that it cannot serve as a criterion for man’s comportment.
Would first looking at whether a person pockets the money they pick up be an accurate way of evaluating their morals and character? (No.) Why not? (People are incapable of truly abiding by that requirement. If they find a small amount of money or something of little value, they will be able to hand it over, but if it’s something valuable, they will be less likely to do so. If it’s a very precious item, they will be even less likely to hand it over—they might even hold onto it at all costs.) You mean that “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” cannot serve as a criterion for evaluating people’s humanity because people are incapable of achieving it. So, if people could abide by this requirement, would it count as a criterion for evaluating their humanity? (No, it wouldn’t.) Why would it not count as a criterion for evaluating people’s humanity, even if people could abide by it? (Someone’s ability or lack thereof to abide by “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” does not really reflect the quality of their humanity. It has nothing to do with how good or bad their humanity is, and it is not a criterion for evaluating people’s humanity.) This is one way of understanding the issue. There is little relation between a person not pocketing the money they pick up and the quality of their humanity. So, if you encounter someone who is really capable of not pocketing the money they pick up, how will you view them? Can you regard them as a person who possesses humanity, an honest person, and someone who submits to God? Can you classify not pocketing the money one picks up as a standard for possessing humanity? We should fellowship on this issue. Who will speak about it? (Someone’s ability to not pocket the money they pick up is irrelevant to defining the essence of that person’s humanity. Their essence is evaluated according to the truth.) What else? (Some people are able to not pocket the money they pick up, even when it’s a large sum of money, or they do many other such good deeds, but they have their own goals and intents. They want to be rewarded for their meritorious actions and to gain a good reputation, so their external good behaviors cannot determine the quality of their humanity.) Anything else? (Suppose someone is capable of not pocketing the money they pick up, but they approach the truth with a resistant attitude, with an attitude that is fed up with the truth. If we evaluate them based on God’s words, they do not possess humanity. So, it is inaccurate to use this standard to judge whether or not someone possesses humanity.) Some of you have already realized that using “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” to evaluate whether someone possesses humanity is wrong—you do not agree with it being used as a standard for evaluating whether someone has humanity. This viewpoint is correct. Regardless of whether someone is capable of not pocketing the money they pick up, this has little to do with the principles of their comportment and the path that they choose. Why do I say this? First of all, when a person does not pocket the money they pick up, this only represents a momentary behavior. It is difficult to say whether they did it because the thing that they picked up was worthless, or because other people were watching them, and they wanted to gain their praise and esteem. Even if their action was unadulterated, it is just a kind of good behavior, and it has little relevance to their pursuit and comportment. At most, it can only be said that this person has a bit of good behavior and noble character. Though this behavior cannot be called a negative thing, it cannot be classified as a positive thing either, and a person certainly cannot be defined as positive just because they do not pocket the money they pick up. This is because it has no relation to the truth, and it has nothing to do with God’s demands of man. Some people say: “How could it not be a positive thing? How could such a noble behavior not be considered positive? If someone was immoral and lacked humanity, would they be capable of not pocketing the money they pick up?” That is not necessarily an accurate way to put it. The devil is capable of doing a couple of good things—so would you say that it is not the devil? Some demon kings do one or two good deeds in order to make a name for themselves and cement their place in history—so would you call them good people? You cannot determine whether someone possesses humanity or not, or whether their character is good or bad, merely on the basis of one good or bad thing that they did. For an evaluation to be accurate, you should base it on their overall conduct, and on whether or not they have the correct ideas and views. If someone is able to return a very valuable item that they found to its rightful owner, this only shows that they are not greedy, and that they do not covet other people’s possessions. They possess this aspect of good moral conduct, but does this have anything to do with their comportment and their attitude toward positive things? (No.) It is likely that some people will not agree with this, they will deem this assertion to be a little subjective and inaccurate. However, considering this from a different perspective, if someone loses something useful, will they not be very worried about it? So, for the person that finds the item, no matter what they find, it is not theirs, therefore they should not keep it. No matter if it is a material object or money, no matter if it is valuable or worthless, it does not belong to them—so is it not their duty to return the item to its rightful owner? Is this not what people ought to do? What is the value of promoting this? Is this not making a big deal about nothing? Is it not over the top to treat not pocketing the money one picks up as a kind of noble moral quality and to elevate it to a lofty, spiritual realm? Is this one good behavior even worth mentioning in the midst of good people? There are so many better and loftier behaviors than this one, so not pocketing the money one picks up is not worth mentioning. However, if you were to vigorously propagate and promote this good behavior among beggars and thieves, it would be appropriate, and it might be of some use. If a country vigorously promotes “Don’t pocket the money you pick up,” it shows that the people there are already very evil, that the country is overrun with robbers and thieves, and unable to guard against them. So, their only recourse is to promote and propagate this kind of behavior to resolve the issue. In fact, this behavior has always been people’s duty. For instance, if someone finds fifty yuan on the street and easily returns it to its rightful owner, is that not so insignificant that it is not even worth mentioning? Does it really need to be praised? Is it necessary to make such a big thing out of nothing, and to sing the praises of this person, and to even commend them for their noble and honorable moral conduct, just because they gave back money to the person who lost it? Is returning lost money to its rightful owner not just the normal and natural thing to do so? Is this not something that a person who possesses normal reason ought to do? Even a little child who does not understand social morals would be capable of doing this, so is it really necessary to make such a big thing of it? Is this behavior really worthy of being elevated to the level of man’s morality? In My opinion, it cannot be elevated to this level, and it is not worthy of praise. It is just a transient good behavior and it has no relation to truly being a good person on a fundamental level. Not pocketing the money one picks up is a very trifling matter. It is something that any normal person, and anyone who cloaks themselves in human skin or speaks in human language should be able to do. This is something that people can do if they try hard, they do not need an educator or thinker to teach them to do it. A three-year-old child is capable of doing this, and yet, thinkers and educators have treated it as a crucial requirement of man’s moral conduct, and in doing so, they have made a bit of a big fuss out of nothing. Though “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” is a statement that evaluates man’s moral conduct, it fundamentally does not rise to the level of measuring whether someone possesses humanity or noble morality. Therefore, it is both inaccurate and unsuitable to use “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” to evaluate the quality of someone’s humanity.
“Don’t pocket the money you pick up” is the most superficial of traditional culture’s demands about moral conduct. Although all human societies have promoted and taught this sort of idea, because people have corrupt dispositions, and due to the prevalence of mankind’s evil trends, even if people can practice “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” or possess this kind of good moral conduct for some period of time, it does not change the fact that people’s corrupt dispositions are constantly dominating their thoughts and behaviors, while also dominating and controlling their comportment and pursuits. Transient instances of good moral conduct have no bearing on a person’s pursuit, and they certainly cannot change a person’s adulation, admiration, and following of evil trends. Is this not the case? (It is.) So, the song that people sang in the past, “On the side of the road, I picked up one cent off the ground,” is now nothing more than a nursery rhyme. It has become a memory. People cannot even abide by the basic good behavior of not pocketing the money they pick up. People wish to change mankind’s pursuits and corrupt dispositions by promoting good moral conduct, and they try to stop mankind’s degradation, and the day-by-day degeneration of society, but they have ultimately failed to accomplish these objectives. The moral of “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” can only exist in man’s ideal world. People treat this moral as a kind of ideal, as an aspiration for a better world. This moral exists within man’s spiritual world. It is a kind of hope that man places upon the world of the future, but it is incompatible with the reality of human life and with people’s actual humanity. It is at odds with man’s principles of comportment and the paths that people walk, as well as what they pursue, and what they ought to possess and achieve. It is incompatible with the manifestations and outpourings of normal humanity, and with the principles of interpersonal relationships and of handling affairs. Thus, this standard for judging mankind’s moral conduct has always been invalid, from ancient times to present day. This idea and viewpoint of “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” that man promotes is particularly meaningless, and most people ignore it, because it cannot change the direction of their comportment, or their pursuits, and it certainly cannot change people’s depravity, selfishness, self-interest, or their growing tendency to rush toward evil. This most superficial demand of “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” has become an amusing, satirical joke. Now, even children do not want to sing, “On the side of the road, I picked up one cent off the ground”—it is not even remotely meaningful. In a world filled with corrupt politicians, this song has become very ironic. The reality, which people are well aware of, is that a person may hand over a lost cent to the police, but if they pick up a million yuan, or ten million yuan, it would go right in their pocket. From this phenomenon, we can see that people’s attempts to promote this demand about moral conduct to mankind have failed. This means that people are incapable of practicing even basic good behaviors. What does it mean to be incapable of practicing even basic good behaviors? It means that people are incapable of practicing even the basic things that they ought to do—like not taking something that they pick up if it belongs to someone else. Moreover, when people do something wrong, they will not speak one honest word about it, they would rather die than admit to their wrongdoing. They cannot even abide by something as basic as not telling lies, so they certainly are not fit to talk about morality. They do not even wish to possess conscience and reason, so how can they talk about morality? Officials and those with authority rack their brains thinking of ways to squeeze and wrest more profit from other people, and to seize things that are not theirs. Even the law cannot hold them back—why is this? How has man come to this point? This is all due to people’s corrupt satanic dispositions, and the control and domination that their satanic nature has over them, which gives rise to all manner of deceitful, harmful behaviors. These hypocrites do many despicable and shameless things under the guise of “serving the people.” Have they not lost all sense of shame? Nowadays, there are so many hypocritical people. In a world where evil people run rampant and good people are oppressed, a doctrine like “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” is simply incapable of restraining people’s corrupt dispositions, and it simply cannot transform their nature and essence, or the path that they walk.
Have you understood the things that I have said in this fellowship on the topic of “Don’t pocket the money you pick up”? What meaning does the saying hold for corrupt humans? Just how should one comprehend this moral? (“Don’t pocket the money you pick up” has no relation to people’s comportment or to the path that they walk. It cannot change the path that man walks.) That is right, it is not suitable for people to evaluate someone’s humanity based on the saying “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” This saying cannot be used to measure a person’s humanity, and it is also wrong to use it to measure someone’s morals. It is nothing more than a transient behavior of man. It simply cannot be used to evaluate a person’s essence. The people who proposed the saying about moral conduct, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up”—these so-called thinkers and educators—are idealists. They do not understand man’s humanity or essence, and they do not comprehend the degree to which man has become depraved and corrupted. As such, this saying about moral conduct that they put forward is very empty, it is simply impractical, and it does not suit man’s real circumstances. This saying about moral conduct does not have even the slightest relation to man’s essence or to the different corrupt dispositions that people pour forth, or to the notions, views, and behaviors that people may give rise to while dominated by corrupt dispositions. This is one point. Another point is that not pocketing the money one picks up is just something that a normal person ought to do. For instance, your parents gave birth to you and raised you, but when you were still ignorant and immature, all you would do is ask your parents for food and clothes. However, once you matured and had a better understanding of things, you naturally knew to love your parents dearly, to avoid making them worried or angry, to try not to add to their workloads or suffering, and to do everything you were capable of on your own. You naturally came to understand these things and did not need anyone to teach you. You are a person, you have a conscience and reason, so you are able to and ought to do these things—none of this is even worth mentioning. By elevating “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” to the level of noble moral character, people are making something out of nothing and taking things a bit too far; this behavior should not be defined in that way, is that not the case? (It is.) What can be learned from this? Doing what one ought to do and is able to do within the scope of normal humanity is a marker of a person having normal humanity. This means that if a person has normal reason, they can do those things that people with normal humanity would think to and realize they ought to do—is this not a very normal phenomenon? If you do something that anyone with normal humanity is capable of doing, can it really be called good moral conduct? Is it necessary to encourage it? (No, it is not.) Does this really count as noble humanity? Does it count as possessing humanity? (No, it doesn’t.) Displaying such behaviors does not elevate one to the level of possessing humanity. If you say that a person has humanity, it means that the perspective and stance from which they view problems is relatively positive and active, as are their ways and methods of handling problems. What is a marker of positivity and activeness? That person will have a conscience and a sense of shame. Another marker of positivity and activeness is a sense of righteousness. It may be that this person has some bad habits like going to bed and waking up late, being a picky eater, or preferring foods with a strong flavor, but apart from these bad habits, they will have certain good qualities. They will have principles and limits when it comes to their comportment and actions; they will have a sense of shame and righteousness; and they will have more positive traits and fewer negative ones. If they could accept and practice the truth, that would be even better and it would be easy for them to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. Conversely, if a person loves evil; seeks fame, profit, and status; adores money; likes living a life of luxury; and enjoys idling away their time seeking pleasure, then the perspective from which they view people and things, and their outlook on life and value system will all be negative and dark, and they will lack a sense of shame and righteousness. This kind of person will not possess humanity, and it certainly will not be easy for them to accept the truth or to attain God’s salvation. This is a simple principle for evaluating people. An evaluation of a person’s moral conduct is not a standard by which to measure whether they possess humanity. In order to evaluate if a person is good or bad, you must judge them based upon their humanity, not their moral conduct. Moral conduct tends to be superficial, and it is influenced by one’s social climate, background, and environment. Some approaches and manifestations change constantly, so it is hard to determine the quality of a person’s humanity based solely on their moral conduct. For example, a person may be very respectful of social morals, and follow the rules wherever they go. They may show restraint in everything they do, hold to the government’s laws, and refrain from making a ruckus in public or from infringing upon other people’s interests. They may also be respectful and helpful, and care for the young and elderly. Does the fact that this person has so many good traits mean that they are living out normal humanity and that they are a good person? (It does not.) A person may practice “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” very well, they might consistently abide by this moral that mankind promotes and advocates for, but how is their humanity? The fact that they practice not pocketing the money they pick up does not say anything about their humanity—this moral conduct cannot be used to evaluate whether their humanity is good or bad. Now how should their humanity be measured? You must strip them of the packaging of this moral conduct, and take away the behaviors and moral conduct that man views as good, and that are the bare minimum that any person with normal humanity is capable of achieving. After that, look at their most important manifestations, such as the principles of their comportment, and the lines that they will not cross in their comportment, as well as their attitude toward the truth and God. This is the only way to see the essence of their humanity, and their inner nature. Viewing people in this way is relatively objective and accurate. That will be all for our discussion on the moral: “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” Have you all understood this fellowship? (Yes.) I often worry that you have not really understood what I have said, that you only comprehend a bit of doctrine regarding it, but still do not understand the parts relating to its essence. So, all I can do is elaborate a bit further on the idea. I will only feel at ease when I get the sense that you have understood. How can I tell that you have understood? When I see a look of joy on your faces, you have probably understood what I am saying. If I can achieve that, then speaking a little bit more on this topic is worthwhile.
I have more or less completed My fellowship on “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” Though I have not told you directly how this moral conflicts with the truth, or why it cannot be elevated to the level of the truth, or what demands God places on people’s behavior and moral conduct, have I not covered all these things? (You have.) Does God’s house promote morals like “Don’t pocket the money you pick up”? (No.) Then how does God’s house view this saying? You may share your understanding. (“Don’t pocket the money you pick up” is just something that anyone with normal humanity ought to abide by and do, so it does not need to be promoted. Also, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” is just a manifestation of man’s morality, it is not related to the principles of people’s comportment, to the views that they have about their pursuits, to the paths that they walk, or to the quality of their humanity.) Is moral conduct a sign of humanity? (It is not a sign of humanity. Some aspects of moral conduct are just things that people with normal humanity ought to possess.) When God’s house talks about humanity and discerning people, it does so within the major context of the pursuit of the truth. Generally speaking, God’s house will not evaluate how a person’s moral conduct is—at the very least, God’s house will not evaluate whether a person is able to abide by the saying: “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” God’s house will not examine this. Instead, God’s house will examine the quality of that person’s humanity, whether they love positive things and the truth, and what kind of attitude they have toward the truth and God. A person may not pocket the money they pick up while they are in secular society, but if they do not protect the interests of God’s house at all after becoming a believer—if they are capable of stealing, squandering, or even selling out offerings when they are given the chance to manage them—if they are capable of doing all manner of bad things, what are they? (An evil person.) They never take a stand to protect the interests of God’s house when issues arise. Are there not people such as these? (There are.) So, would it be suitable to use the saying, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” to evaluate their humanity? It would not be suitable. Some people say: “They used to be a good person. They had noble moral character and everyone approved of them. So why did they change after coming to God’s house?” Did they really change? The truth is, they did not change. They possessed a little bit of moral conduct and good behavior, but aside from that, this was always the essence of their humanity—that has not changed at all. Wherever they go, they always comport themselves like this. It is just that previously people evaluated them using the criterion of moral conduct, instead of using the truth to judge their humanity. People think that they underwent some kind of change, but in reality, they did not. Some say, “They weren’t like that before.” They were not like that before because they were not faced with these situations before and they did not find themselves in this kind of environment before. Furthermore, people did not understand the truth, and were unable to discern them. What is the ultimate consequence of people viewing and judging others based on one good behavior instead of on the essence of their humanity? Not only will people be unable to see others clearly, they will also be blinded and misled by the external good moral conduct of others. When people cannot see others clearly, they will put their trust in, promote, and assign the wrong people, and they will be misled and cheated by other people. Some leaders and workers frequently make this mistake when choosing and assigning people. They are blinded by people who outwardly possess some good behaviors and good moral conduct, and arrange for them to take on important work or to keep some important items. As a result, something goes wrong, and it causes God’s house to suffer some losses. Why did something go wrong? It went wrong because the leaders and workers could not see through to the nature and essence of these people. Why were they unable to see through to their nature and essence? Because these leaders and workers do not understand the truth, and they are not able to evaluate and discern people. They cannot see through to people’s nature and essence, and they do not know what kind of attitude people have toward God, the truth, and the interests of God’s house. Why is that? Because these leaders and workers view people and things from the wrong perspective. They only view people based on human notions and imaginings, they do not view their essence according to God’s words and the principles of the truth—instead, they view people based on their moral conduct and external behaviors and manifestations. It is because their views on people lack principles that they put their trust in the wrong people, assigned the wrong people, and consequently they were blinded, cheated, and used by those people, and ultimately the interests of God’s house suffered. These are the consequences of being unable to perceive people or see through to them. So, when someone wants to pursue the truth, the first lesson they must learn is how to discern and view people—this lesson takes a long time to learn, and it is one of the most fundamental lessons that people must learn. If you want to see a person clearly and to learn to identify them, you must first understand what standards God uses to evaluate people, what warped thoughts and views control and dominate the way that people view and evaluate others, and whether they conflict with the standards that God uses to evaluate people, and how they conflict. Are the methods and criteria by which you evaluate people based in God’s demands? Are they based in God’s words? Do they have a basis in the truth? If not, and you rely entirely on your experiences and imaginings to evaluate others, or if you even go so far as to base your evaluations on the social morals that are promoted within society, or on what you observe with your own two eyes, then the person that you are trying to discern will remain unclear to you. You will not be able to see through to them. If you put your trust in them and assign duties to them, you will be taking on a certain level of risk, and inevitably, there is a possibility that this will cause damage to God’s offerings, the church’s work, and the life entry of God’s chosen. Discerning people is the first lesson you must learn if you want to pursue the truth. Of course, it is also one of the most basic aspects of the truth that people ought to possess. Learning to discern people is inseparable from the subject of today’s fellowship. You must be able to discern between man’s good moral conduct and qualities, and the things that a person with normal humanity ought to possess. Being able to discern between these two things is very important. Only then will you be able to recognize and accurately perceive a person’s essence, and ultimately determine who has humanity and who does not. What must one first be equipped with in order to discern these things? One must understand God’s words, as well as this aspect of the truth, and reach the point where they view people according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. Is this not a principle of the truth that one ought to practice and possess while pursuing the truth? (Yes.) So, it is imperative for us to fellowship on these topics.
I just fellowshiped on the first saying, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up,” which is clearly a kind of human moral conduct. It is a kind of moral character and transient behavior that leaves a good impression on people, but, unfortunately, it cannot serve as a standard by which to evaluate whether someone possesses humanity or not. The second saying, “Derive pleasure from helping others,” is the same. Based on the wording of the statement, it is clear that this is also something that people like and regard as a good behavior. Those who display this good behavior are held in high esteem as people who possess good moral conduct and noble character—in sum, they are taken to be people that derive pleasure from helping others and have excellent moral character. “Derive pleasure from helping others” has some similarities to “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” It is also a good behavior that arises in people within certain social climates. The literal meaning of “Derive pleasure from helping others” is to find pleasure in assisting other people. It does not mean that it is one’s duty to help people—the saying is not “It is your responsibility to help others”—it is “Derive pleasure from helping others.” From this, we can see what motivates people to help others. They do not do it for the sake of other people, but rather for themselves. People are filled with worry and pain, so they find others that need help and provide them with charity and assistance; they lend a helping hand, and do whatever good things they are capable of doing in order to make themselves feel happy, pleased, at peace, and joyous, and to fill their days with meaning, so that they do not feel so empty and anguished—they improve their moral conduct in order to achieve their goal of purifying and elevating the realm of their hearts and minds. What kind of behavior is this? If you view people who derive pleasure from helping others from the perspective of this explanation, then they are not good people. At the very least, they are not motivated by their morality, conscience, or humanity to do what they ought to do, or to fulfill their social and familial responsibilities; rather, they help people in order to attain pleasure, spiritual consolation, emotional comfort, and to live happily. What should be made of this kind of moral conduct? If you look at the nature of it, it is even worse than “Don’t pocket the money you pick up.” At least “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” does not have a selfish aspect to it. Then what about: “Derive pleasure from helping others”? The word “pleasure” signifies that this behavior contains elements of selfishness and base intents. It is not about helping people for their sake or as a selfless offering, it is done for the sake of one’s own pleasure. This is simply not worth encouraging. For example, say you see an elderly person fall down on a main road and you think to yourself: “I’ve been feeling down these days. This elderly person falling down is a great opportunity—I’m going to derive pleasure from helping others!” You go over and help the elderly person up, and when they get to their feet, they praise you, saying: “You’re really a good person, kiddo. May you be safe and happy and live to a great old age!” They shower you with these pleasant words, and after hearing them, all of your worries vanish and you feel pleased. You think that it is good to help people, and resolve to walk the streets in your spare time and help anyone that falls over back to their feet. People display some good behaviors under the influence of this kind of thinking, and human society has classified this as the fine tradition of deriving pleasure from helping others, and as a kind of noble moral character that passes on this great tradition. The sub-context of deriving pleasure from helping others is that those who do the helping usually consider themselves to be the pinnacle of morality. They fashion themselves as great philanthropists, and the more people praise them, the more willing they are to help, to provide charity, and to do more for others. This satisfies their desire to be a hero and the savior of humanity, as well as their desire to derive a kind of gratification from being needed by others. Do humans not all want to feel needed? When people feel needed by others, they think that they are particularly useful and that their lives have meaning. Is this not just a kind of attention seeking? Seeking attention is the only thing that brings people pleasure—it is their way of life. In fact, no matter what perspective we view the matter of deriving pleasure from helping others from, it is not a standard for evaluating man’s morals. Oftentimes, the act of deriving pleasure from helping others really only requires the slightest effort. If you are willing to do it, then you will have fulfilled your social responsibility; if you are not willing to do it, no one will hold you responsible, and you will not become the subject of public condemnation. When it comes to the good behaviors that man commends, one can choose to practice them or refrain from doing so, either is fine. There is no need to constrain people with this saying, or to make them learn how to derive pleasure from helping others, because it is, in and of itself, just a transient good behavior. Regardless of whether someone is motivated by a desire to fulfill their social responsibility or if they practice this good behavior out of a sense of civic virtue, what will the ultimate outcome be? They will just be satisfying their desire to be a good person and to embody the spirit of Lei Feng in this one instance; they will derive some pleasure and comfort from doing so, and thereby elevate the realm of their thinking to a higher level. That is all. This is the essence of what they are doing. So, what was your understanding of the saying “Derive pleasure from helping others” prior to this fellowship? (I didn’t recognize the selfish and despicable intents behind it before.) Take a scenario in which you have a duty to do something, a responsibility that you must not shirk, something quite difficult, and you must endure a little suffering, renounce some things, and pay a price in order to accomplish it, but you are able to fulfill this responsibility anyway. You will not feel so pleased while you are doing it, and after paying a price and fulfilling this responsibility, the results of your labor will not bring you any pleasure or comfort, but because it was your responsibility and duty, you did it anyway. If we compare this to deriving pleasure from helping others, which displays more humanity? (People who fulfill their responsibilities and duties have more humanity.) Deriving pleasure from helping others is not about fulfilling a responsibility—it is just a requirement about people’s moral conduct and social responsibilities that exists within certain social contexts; it comes from popular opinion, social morals, or even the laws of a country, and it serves to evaluate whether a person has morals and the quality of their humanity. In other words, “Derive pleasure from helping others” is just a saying that limits people’s behavior, which human society has put forward in order to elevate the realm of man’s thinking. This kind of saying is just used to make people practice a few good behaviors, and the standards for evaluating those good behaviors are social morals, public opinion, or even the law. For instance, if you see someone that needs help in a public space and you are the first person that ought to go help them, but you do not, what will others think of you? They will scold you for your lack of manners—is that not what we mean by public opinion? (Yes.) Then what are social morals? They are positive and upward-facing things and habits that society promotes and encourages. Naturally, they include a lot of specific requirements, for instance: supporting vulnerable people, lending a helping hand when others encounter hardships, and not just standing idly by. People are supposed to practice this kind of moral conduct, that is what it means to possess social morals. If you see someone suffering and you turn a blind eye to it, ignore them, and do nothing, then you lack social morals. So, what demands does the law place on man’s moral conduct? China is a special case in this regard: Chinese law does not have any express stipulations concerning social responsibilities and social morals. People just learn a bit about these things through their family upbringing, school education, and what they hear and observe from society. By contrast, in western countries these things are enshrined in law. For instance, if you see that someone has fallen on the road, at the very least you should go up to them and ask, “Are you OK? Do you need help?” If that person replies, “I’m OK, thank you,” then you do not need to help them, you are not required to fulfill that responsibility. If they say, “I need help, please,” then you have to help them. If you do not help them, you will be held legally responsible. This is a special requirement that certain countries put forward regarding people’s moral conduct; they place this demand on people through express stipulation in their laws. These demands placed on people’s moral conduct by public opinion, social morals, and even the law are limited only to people’s behavior, and these basic behavioral criteria are the standards by which a person’s moral conduct is evaluated. On the surface, these moral standards appear to be evaluating people’s behavior—in other words, whether or not people have fulfilled their social responsibilities—but at their essence, they are evaluating people’s inner quality. Be it public opinion, social morals, or the law, these things only measure or make demands about the things that people do, and these measurements and demands are limited to people’s behavior. They judge a person’s quality and moral conduct based on that person’s behavior—that is the scope of their assessment. That is the nature of the statement: “Derive pleasure from helping others.” When it comes to deriving pleasure from helping others, western countries place demands on people through the stipulations of the law, whereas in China, traditional culture is used to educate and condition people with these ideas. While there is this difference between the East and the West, they are the same in nature—both use sayings to restrict and regulate people’s behavior and morality. However, be it the laws of western countries or traditional culture in the East, these are all just demands and regulations placed on man’s behavior and moral conduct, and these criteria only regulate people’s behavior and moral conduct—but do any of them target man’s humanity? Can regulations that only stipulate what behaviors a person ought to practice be used as standards for evaluating their humanity? (No.) If we look at the saying “Derive pleasure from helping others,” some evil people are able to derive pleasure from helping others, but they are motivated by their own intents and goals. When devils do some small good deed, they are even more likely to have their own intents and goals for doing so. Do you think that everyone who derives pleasure from helping others is a righteous lover of the truth? Take those who supposedly derive pleasure from helping others in China, like those chivalrous figures, or people who rob from the rich and give to the poor, or those who frequently come to the aid of vulnerable groups and the disabled, and so on—do they all have humanity? Do they all love positive things and have a sense of righteousness? (No.) At most, they are just people who have relatively better character. Because they are governed by this spirit of deriving pleasure from helping others, they perform many good deeds that bring them pleasure, comfort, and allow them to thoroughly enjoy a feeling of happiness, but practicing such behaviors does not mean that they have humanity, because both their faith and what they pursue at a spiritual level are unclear, they are unknown variables. So, can they be regarded as people with humanity and conscience based on this good moral conduct? (No.) Some institutions like foundations and welfare agencies that supposedly derive pleasure from helping others, who assist vulnerable groups and the disabled, are, at the very most, fulfilling a bit of their social responsibility. They do these things in order to improve their image in the public eye, to increase their visibility, and to satisfy the mentality of deriving pleasure from helping others—this absolutely does not rise to the level of signifying that they “possess humanity.” Furthermore, are the people that they derive pleasure from helping really in need of assistance? Is deriving pleasure from helping others in and of itself righteous? Not necessarily. If you survey all of the various major and minor events that occur throughout society for long enough, you will see that some of them are purely a matter of people deriving pleasure from helping others, whereas, in many other cases, more untold secrets and dark aspects of society are wrapped up in instances where people derive pleasure from helping others. In any case, there are intents and goals behind deriving pleasure from helping others, whether these be to become famous and to rise above the rest, or to abide by social morals and not break the law, or to gain a more positive appraisal from society at large. No matter how one views it, deriving pleasure from helping others is just one of man’s external behaviors, and, at the very most, it amounts to a kind of good moral conduct. It has nothing at all to do with the normal humanity that God demands. Those who are capable of deriving pleasure from helping others may well be average people without any real ambitions, or they might be major figures in society; they could be relatively kindhearted people, but they also might be malicious at heart. They could be any kind of person, and everyone is capable of practicing this behavior in a passing moment. So, the statement about moral conduct, “Derive pleasure from helping others,” certainly does not qualify as a standard for evaluating people’s humanity.
“Derive pleasure from helping others”—this saying about moral conduct does not, in fact, represent the essence of people’s humanity, and it has little relation to people’s nature and essence. Therefore, it is inappropriate to use it to evaluate the quality of somebody’s humanity. So, what is an appropriate way to evaluate someone’s humanity? At the very least, a person who has humanity should not decide whether to help someone or to fulfill their responsibilities based on whether or not doing so will make them feel happy; instead, their decision should be based on their conscience and reason, and they should not consider what they have to gain, or what consequences helping that person will have on them, or what effect it might have on them in the future. They should not consider any of these things, and they should fulfill their responsibilities, help others, and prevent others from experiencing suffering. They should help people in a pure way, without any selfish aims—that is what a person who truly possesses humanity would do. If a person’s goal in helping others is to please themselves or to build a good reputation for themselves, then there is a selfish and base quality to this—those who truly possess conscience and reason would not act in this way. People who have true love for others do not act solely in order to fulfill their desire to feel a certain way, instead, they do so in order to fulfill their responsibilities, and to do everything in their power to help others. They do not help people in order to get a reward, and they do not have any other intents or motives. Even though acting in this way can be difficult, and though they may be judged by others or even face a bit of danger, they recognize that this is a duty that people ought to fulfill, that it is people’s responsibility, and that if they do not act in this way, they will have fallen short of what they owe to others and to God, and they will be left with a lifelong regret. As such, they proceed without hesitation, they do their utmost, they obey the will of Heaven, and they fulfill their responsibility. No matter how others judge them, or whether or not others show them gratitude and esteem them, so long as they are able to help that person to do whatever it is that they need to do, and can do so with all their heart, they will feel satisfied. Those who are able to act in this way have conscience and reason, they possess the manifestations of humanity, and not just a kind of behavior that is limited to the scope of moral character and moral conduct. Deriving pleasure from helping others is just a kind of behavior, and sometimes it is just a behavior that arises in certain specific contexts; a person’s decision to engage in this kind of transient behavior is made based on their mood, emotions, social environment, as well as the immediate context, and what benefits or drawbacks may come from acting in that way. Those with humanity do not consider these things when they help people—they make their decision based on a standard of judgment that is more positive, and more in keeping with the conscience and reason of normal humanity. Sometimes, they are even able to persevere in helping people when doing so contradicts and conflicts with the standards of morality. The criteria, ideas, and views of morality can only restrain people’s transient behaviors. And whether these behaviors are good or bad will change depending on the person’s mood, emotions, the good and evil within them, and their passing good or bad intentions; naturally, the social climate and environment will also have an impact on this. There are many impurities within these behaviors; they are all superficial behaviors, and people cannot judge whether someone has humanity or not using them. By contrast, it is much more accurate and practical to judge whether someone has humanity or not based on the essence of their humanity, what they pursue, their outlook on life and their value system, the path that they walk, and the basis for their comportment and actions. Tell Me, which accords with the truth: the bases for evaluating humanity or the bases for evaluating moral conduct? Is it the standards for evaluating moral conduct that accord with the truth, or the standards for evaluating whether someone has humanity? Which of these standards accord with the truth? In actuality, it is the standards for evaluating whether someone possesses humanity that accord with the truth. This is an unquestionable certainty. The reason why the things used to evaluate people’s moral conduct cannot serve as criteria is because they are inconstant. They are filled with many impurities, like people’s transactions, interests, preferences, pursuits, emotions, evil thoughts, corrupt dispositions, and so on. There are just too many mistakes and impurities within them—they are not straightforward. Therefore, they cannot serve as criteria for judging people. They are full of all kinds of things which Satan instills in man and additional conditions that arise due to man’s corrupt satanic disposition, and as such, they are not the truth. In summary, no matter whether people consider these criteria of moral conduct easy or difficult to meet, or whether people estimate them to be of high, low, or average value, in any case, they are all just sayings that restrict and regulate people’s behavior. They only rise to the level of man’s moral quality; they do not have the slightest relation to God’s demand that the truth be used to judge a person’s humanity. They do not even include the most basic standards that those with humanity ought to possess and fulfill; they fall short of all those things. When viewing others, people only focus on evaluating their displays of moral conduct; they view and evaluate other people entirely according to the demands of traditional culture. God does not view people merely based on their displays of moral conduct—He focuses on the essence of their humanity. What is included in the essence of a person’s humanity? Their preferences, their views on things, their outlook on life and value system, what they pursue, whether they have a sense of righteousness, whether they love the truth and positive things, their ability to accept and submit to the truth, the path that they choose, and so on. It is accurate to judge the essence of a person’s humanity according to these things. This more or less concludes My fellowship on deriving pleasure from helping others. Through this fellowship on these two demands about moral conduct, do you now have an understanding of the basic principles of discernment regarding both how to evaluate moral conduct, as well as the difference between God’s standards for evaluating people and the moral conduct that man speaks of? (Yes.)
I have just fellowshiped about two of the demands placed on man’s moral conduct by traditional culture, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” and “Derive pleasure from helping others.” What have you learned from My fellowship on these two sayings? (I learned that people’s moral conduct is unrelated to the essence of their humanity. At most, people who display these kinds of moral conduct possess some good behaviors and manifestations in terms of the quality of their morality. This does not mean, however, that they have humanity or that they live out human likeness. I have gained a somewhat clearer understanding of this issue.) People who display good moral conduct do not necessarily have humanity—everyone can recognize this, and it is, indeed, the way that things are. People all follow society’s evil trends and they have all gradually lost their conscience and reason—few are able to live out human likeness. Has every person who once handed over one cent that they found on the sidewalk to the police turned out to be a good person? Not necessarily. What outcome did those who were once praised as heroes meet with later on? In their hearts, people all know the answers to these questions. What became of those paragons of social morality and grand philanthropists who often derived pleasure from helping others, who were adorned with red flowers, and lauded by man? Most of them turned out to not be good people. They just purposefully did a few good deeds in order to become famous. In truth, most of their actual behavior, lives, and character are not that good at all. The only thing they are really good at is flattery and sycophancy. When they take off their red flowers and that superficial veneer of being a paragon of social morality, they do not even know how to comport themselves or how they should go about their life. What is the problem here? Have they not been trapped by the crown of “moral paragon” that society bestowed upon them? They do not really know what they are—they have been flattered so excessively that they have begun to think themselves too great, and they can no longer be normal people. In the end, they do not even know how to live, their day-to-day existence becomes a complete mess, and some even end up abusing alcohol, becoming depressed, and killing themselves. There are certainly people that fall into this category. They are always chasing a feeling, wishing to be heroes and exemplars, to become famous, or to be the pinnacle of moral excellence. They can never return to the real world; the quotidian necessities of real life are a constant source of vexation and suffering for them. They do not know how to rid themselves of this pain or how to choose the right path in life. In search of a thrill, some turn to drugs, while others choose to end their lives to escape feelings of emptiness. Some of those that do not kill themselves often end up dying of depression. Are there not many examples of this? (Yes.) This is the kind of damage that traditional culture inflicts upon people. Not only does it not allow people to gain an accurate understanding of humanity or guide them onto the path that they should follow—that is not all—it actually leads them astray, steering them toward a realm of delusion and fancy. This damages people, and it does so in quite a deep way. Some might say: “That’s not true in all cases! We’re doing just fine, aren’t we?” Is the fact that you are doing well now not just the result of God’s protection? It is only because God chose you and you have His protection that you were lucky enough to accept His work, and can read His words, attend gatherings, exchange fellowship, and fulfill your duty here; it is only because of His protection that you can live the life of a normal human, and possess the normal reason to deal with all aspects of your daily life. However, it is undeniable that in the deep reaches of your mind, there are still ideas and views like: “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” and “Derive pleasure from helping others.” And at the same time, you are still imprisoned by these ideological and moral criteria that come from mankind. Why do I say that you are imprisoned by these things? Because the path that you choose to take in life; the principles and direction of your actions and comportment; and the principles, methods, and criteria by which you view people and things; and so on are all still influenced, or even fettered and controlled, by these ideological and moral criteria, to differing extents. Whereas, God’s words and the truth have yet to become the basis and criteria for your views on people and things, and your comportment and actions. As of now, you have only chosen the right direction in life, and you have the will, aspiration, and hope to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. Yet, in reality, most of you have not made your way onto this path at all—in other words, you have not so much as set foot on the right path that God has prepared for man. Some will say: “If we have not set foot on the right path, then why are we still able to fulfill our duties?” This is a result of man’s choice, cooperation, conscience, and will. Right now, you are cooperating with God’s demands and trying your best to improve, but just because you are trying to improve, it does not mean that you have already set foot on the path of pursuing the truth. One reason for this is that you are still influenced by the ideas that traditional culture has inculcated in you. For instance, you might have a good understanding of the essence of the statements, “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” and “Derive pleasure from helping others,” after hearing Me fellowship about them and expose them, but in a few days, you may change your mind. You might come to think: “What is so bad about ‘Don’t pocket the money you pick up’? I happen to like people that don’t pocket the money they pick up. At least they aren’t greedy. What’s wrong with ‘Derive pleasure from helping others’? At the very least, when you’re in need, you can count on somebody lending you a helping hand. This is a good thing and it is something everyone needs! Besides, no matter how you look at it, people finding pleasure in helping others is just a good, positive thing. It is our incumbent duty and it should not be criticized!” You see, only a few days after being awoken, one night’s sleep will be enough to change you; it will send you back to where you were before, and return you once more to the imprisonment of traditional culture. In other words, these things lodged in the depths of your mind influence your thoughts and views from time to time, as well as the paths you choose. And inevitably, while they are influencing you, they are also constantly holding you back, stopping you from fulfilling your desire to set foot on the correct path in life, to embark on the path of pursuing the truth, and to take the path in life where God’s words are your basis, and the truth is your criterion. Even if you are very willing to walk this path, even if you long to do so, and feel agitated about it, and you spend your days thinking and planning, making resolutions, and praying for this, things will still not go as you wish them to. The reason for this is that these aspects of traditional culture are too profoundly rooted in the depths of your heart. Some may say: “That’s not right! You say that traditional culture is too deeply rooted in people’s hearts, but I don’t think that’s true. I’m only in my twenties, I’m not in my seventies or eighties, so how could these things have already taken deep root in my heart?” Why do I say that these ideas are already deeply rooted in your heart? Think about it: From the time of your earliest memories have you not always aspired to be a noble person, even if your parents did not instill such ideas in you? For instance, most people like to watch movies and read novels about heroes, and they deeply sympathize with the victims in these stories, while despising the villains, and the cruel characters who hurt other people. When you grow up against this kind of background, you unconsciously accept the things that general society has collectively agreed upon. So, why did you accept those things? Because people are not born possessing the truth and they do not have an innate ability to discern things. You do not possess this instinct—the instinct that humans possess is an inherent tendency to like some good, positive, and active things. These active and positive things make you aspire to do better, to become a good, heroic, and great person. These things gradually begin to take form in your heart when you come into contact with sayings that stem from public opinion and social morals. Once statements that come from the morality of traditional culture infiltrate you, and enter your inner world, they take root in your heart, and they begin to dominate your life. When this occurs, you do not discern, resist, or reject these things, and instead you feel deeply that you need them. Your first move is to pander to these sayings. Why is that? Because these sayings are so well-suited to people’s tastes and notions, they conform to the needs of people’s spiritual worlds. As a result, you accept these statements as a matter of course and without guarding against them at all. Gradually, through your family upbringing, school education, and the conditioning and indoctrination of society, along with your own imaginings, you end up becoming deeply convinced that these sayings are positive things. Through the refinement of time, and as you gradually grow older, you strive to follow these sayings in all sorts of contexts and situations, and follow these things that humans innately prefer and believe to be good. They increasingly take form within you, and become more and more entrenched within you. At the same time, these things dominate your outlook on life and the goals that you pursue, and they become the standards by which you judge people and things. Once these sayings from traditional culture take shape within people, the basic conditions that lead them to resist God and the truth are all in place; it is as if people find their own reasons and their own basis for doing so. And so, when God exposes people’s corrupt dispositions and essence, and showers them with chastisement and judgment, people form all kinds of notions about Him. They think: “People often say, ‘If you strike others, don’t strike them in the face; if you call others out, don’t call out their shortcomings,’ and ‘Execution does nothing but make heads roll; be lenient wherever possible,’ so how could God speak like that? Was that really God? God wouldn’t speak that way—He ought to take the highest ground, and talk to people with a gentle tone, the tone of Buddha who delivers all human beings from suffering, the tone of a Bodhisattva. That’s what God is like—an incredibly gentle and grand figure.” This series of ideas, views, and notions continue to gush from your heart in ever-increasing volume, and, ultimately, you just cannot bear it any longer and you do something to rebel against and resist God in spite of yourself. In this way, you are ruined by your notions and imaginings. From this we can see that no matter how old you are, as long as you have received the education of traditional culture, and possess the mental capacity of an adult, your heart will be filled by these aspects of traditional culture’s morality, and they will gradually become entrenched within you. They have already dominated you, and you have already lived by these things for many years. Your life and your very nature have long been occupied by these aspects of traditional culture’s morality. For instance, from five or six years of age, you learned to derive pleasure from helping others, and not to pocket the money you pick up. These things influenced you and they completely dictated the way that you behaved. Now, as a middle-aged person, you have already lived by these things for many years; this means that you are far way off from the standards that God demands of man. Ever since you accepted these sayings about moral conduct that traditional culture promotes, you have strayed further and further from God’s demands. The gap between your own standards of humanity and the standards of humanity that God demands has grown bigger and bigger. As a result, you have strayed further and further from God. Is this not the case? Take your time to ponder these words.
Let us now fellowship on the next saying regarding moral conduct—“Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others”—what does this saying mean? It means that you should make strict demands of yourself and be lenient with other people, so that they can see how generous and magnanimous you are. Why should people do this, then? What is it meant to achieve? Is it doable? Is it really a natural expression of people’s humanity? You must compromise yourself so much in order to take this on! You must be free of desires and demands, requiring yourself to feel less joy, suffer a bit more, pay more of a price and work more so that others do not have to wear themselves out. And if others whine, complain, or perform poorly, you must not ask too much of them—more or less is good enough. People believe that this is a sign of noble morals—but why does it ring false to Me? Is it not false? (It is.) Under normal circumstances, the natural expression of an ordinary person’s humanity is to be tolerant of themselves and strict with others. That is a fact. People can perceive everyone else’s problems—“This person is arrogant! That person is bad! This one is selfish! That one is careless and perfunctory in doing their duty! This person is so lazy!”—while to themselves they think: “If I’m a bit lazy, that’s fine. I’m of good caliber. Though I’m lazy, I do a better job than others!” They find fault with others and like to nitpick, but with themselves they are tolerant and accommodating wherever possible. Is this not a natural expression of their humanity? (It is.) If people are expected to live up to the idea of being “strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” what agony must they put themselves through? Could they really bear it? How many people would manage to do so? (None.) And why is that? (People are selfish by nature. They act according to the principle that it is “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.”) Indeed, man is born selfish, man is a selfish creature, and is deeply committed to that satanic philosophy: “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” People think that it would be catastrophic for them, and unnatural, not to be selfish and look out for themselves when things befall them. This is what people believe and it is how they act. If people are expected not to be selfish, and to make strict demands of themselves, and to willingly lose out rather than take advantage of others, is that a realistic expectation? If people are expected to happily say, when someone takes advantage of them, “You’re taking advantage but I’m not making a fuss about it. I’m a tolerant person, I won’t badmouth you or try to get my own back on you, and if you haven’t taken enough advantage yet, feel free to carry on”—is that a realistic expectation? How many people could manage to do this? Is this the way that corrupt mankind normally behaves? Obviously, for this to happen is anomalous. Why so? Because people with corrupt dispositions, especially selfish and mean people, struggle for their own interests, and giving thought to others will absolutely not make them feel satisfied. So, this phenomenon, when it does happen, is an anomaly. “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others”—this claim about moral conduct is clearly just a demand that does not tally with either the facts or humanity, which is placed upon man by social moralists who do not understand humanity. It is like telling a mouse that it is not allowed to make holes or telling a cat that it is not permitted to catch mice. Is it right to make such a demand? (No. It defies the laws of humanity.) This demand clearly does not square with reality, and it is very hollow. Are those who exact this demand capable of abiding by it themselves? (No.) They expect others to abide by a demand which they themselves cannot fulfill—what is the issue here? Is this not a bit irresponsible? At the very least, it can be said that they are irresponsible and talking nonsense. Now, taking this a step further, what is the nature of this issue? (Hypocrisy.) Right, this is an example of hypocrisy. They clearly cannot abide by this demand themselves, yet they still claim themselves to be so tolerant, big-hearted, and of such high moral stock—is this not just hypocrisy? No matter how you frame it, this is an empty saying that carries a certain falseness to it, so we will classify it as a hypocritical saying. It is similar to the kind of sayings that the Pharisees promoted; there is an ulterior motive behind it, which is clearly to show off, to characterize oneself as a person of noble moral conduct, and to be praised by others as an exemplar and a model of noble moral conduct. So, what kind of people are able to be strict with themselves and tolerant of others? Are teachers and doctors able to abide by this saying? Were the so-called famous people, great people, and sages like Confucius, Mencius and Laozi able to abide by this saying? (No.) In summary, regardless of how ridiculous this saying that man has put forward is, or whether or not this demand is tenable, it is ultimately just a demand placed upon people’s moral character and behavior. At the very least, people are not willing to abide by this demand and it is not easy for them to practice it, because it runs counter to the standards that man’s normal humanity is capable of achieving. But, in any case, it is still a standard and a demand about man’s moral conduct that is promoted by traditional culture. Even though “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others” is an empty phrase that few can abide by, it is the same as “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” and “Derive pleasure from helping others”—regardless of what motives or intents the people who practice it harbor, or if anyone is even capable of practicing it at all—in any case, based simply on the fact that the people who promote this requirement place themselves at the pinnacle of morality, does this not make them arrogant and self-righteous, and possessed of somewhat abnormal reason? If you were to ask them if they can abide by the saying, “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” they would say, “Of course!” And yet, when they are actually compelled to abide by it, they will not be able to. Why will they be unable to abide by it? Because they have an arrogant, satanic disposition. Ask them to abide by this moral when others are vying with them for status, power, prestige, and profit, and see if they can do it. They will simply be unable to do it, and they will even turn hostile toward you. If you ask them, “Why do you still promote this saying when you cannot even abide by it yourself? Why do you still demand that others conform to it? Is this not hypocritical of you?” will they accept it? If you expose them, they will not accept it—no matter how you expose them, they will not accept it or admit fault—this shows that they are not good people. The fact that they affect a high moral tone despite being unable to conform to their own demands just shows that they are rightly called great frauds and hypocritical posers.
“Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” as with sayings about “Don’t pocket the money you pick up” and “Derive pleasure from helping others,” is one of those demands that traditional culture makes regarding people’s moral conduct. By the same token, regardless of whether someone can attain or exercise this moral conduct, it is still not the standard or norm for measuring their humanity. It may be that you really are capable of being strict with yourself and tolerant of others, and that you hold yourself to particularly high standards. You may be squeaky clean and you may always think of others and show consideration for them, without being selfish and seeking after your own interests. You may seem particularly magnanimous and selfless, and have a strong sense of social responsibility and social morals. Your noble personality and qualities may be on display to those close to you, and to those you encounter and interact with. Your behavior may never give others any reason to blame or criticize you, eliciting instead profuse praise and even admiration. People may regard you as someone who is truly strict with themselves and tolerant of others. However, these are nothing more than external behaviors. Are the thoughts and wishes deep in your heart consistent with these external behaviors, with these actions that you live out externally? The answer is no, they are not. The reason you can act in this way is that there is a motive behind it. What is that motive, exactly? Could you bear for that motive to see the light of day? Certainly not. This proves that this motive is something unmentionable, something dark and evil. Now, why is this motive unspeakable and evil? It is because people’s humanity is governed and driven by their corrupt dispositions. All the thoughts of humanity, regardless of whether people put them into words or pour them forth, are undeniably dominated, controlled, and manipulated by their corrupt dispositions. As a result, people’s motives and intents are all sinister and evil. Regardless of whether people are able to be strict with themselves and tolerant of others, or whether or not they outwardly express this moral perfectly, it is inevitable that this moral will have no control or influence over their humanity. So, what does control people’s humanity? It is their corrupt dispositions, it is the essence of their humanity that lies obscured beneath the moral “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others”—that is their true nature. A person’s true nature is the essence of their humanity. And what does the essence of their humanity consist of? It mainly consists of their preferences, what they pursue, their outlook on life and their value system, as well as their attitude toward the truth and God, and so on. Only these things truly represent the essence of people’s humanity. It can be said with certainty that most of the people who require themselves to fulfill the moral of being “strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” are obsessed with status. Driven by their corrupt dispositions, they cannot help but pursue prestige among men, social prominence, and status in the eyes of others. All of these things are related to their desire for status, and are pursued under the cover of their good moral conduct. And how do these pursuits of theirs come about? They entirely come from and are driven by their corrupt dispositions. So, no matter what, whether someone fulfills the moral of being “strict with yourself and tolerant of others” or not, and whether or not they do so to perfection, this cannot change the essence of their humanity at all. By implication, this means that it cannot in any way change their outlook on life or their value system, or guide their attitudes and perspectives on all manner of people, events, and things. Isn’t that the case? (It is.) The more that someone is capable of being strict with themselves and tolerant of others, the better they are at putting on an act, disguising themselves, and at beguiling others with good behavior and pleasing words, and the more deceitful and evil they are by nature. The more that they are this type of person, the deeper their love and pursuit of status and power becomes. However great, glorious and correct their external moral conduct seems to be, and however pleasing it is for people to behold, the unspoken pursuit that lies in the depths of their heart, as well as their nature and essence, and even their ambitions, may burst forth from them at any time. Therefore, however good their moral conduct is, it cannot conceal the intrinsic essence of their humanity, or their ambitions and desires. It cannot conceal their hideous nature and essence which do not love positive things and are sick of and hate the truth. As these facts show, the saying “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others” is more than just absurd—it exposes those ambitious types who attempt to use such sayings and behaviors to cover up their unspeakable ambitions and desires. You can compare this to some of the antichrists and evil people in the church. In order to solidify their status and power within the church, and to gain a better reputation among other members, they are able to undergo suffering and pay a price while performing their duties, and they may even renounce their work and families and sell off everything they have to expend themselves for God. In some cases, the prices that they pay and the suffering they undergo in expending themselves for God exceed what an average person can withstand; they are able to embody a spirit of extreme self-denial in order to maintain their status. Yet, no matter how much they suffer or what prices they pay, none of them safeguard God’s testimony or the interests of God’s house, nor do they practice according to God’s words. The goal that they pursue is just to attain status, power, and God’s rewards. Nothing that they do has the slightest relation to the truth. Regardless of how strict they are with themselves and how tolerant they are of others, what will their ultimate outcome be? What will God think of them? Will He determine their outcome based on the external good behaviors that they live out? He certainly will not. People view and judge others based on these behaviors and manifestations, and because they cannot see through to the essence of other people, they end up being deceived by them. God, however, is never deceived by man. He absolutely will not commend and remember people’s moral conduct because they were able to be strict with themselves and tolerant of others. Instead, He will condemn them for their ambitions and for the paths they have taken in pursuit of status. Therefore, those who pursue the truth should have discernment of this criterion for evaluating people. They should thoroughly deny and abandon this absurd standard, and discern people according to God’s words and the principles of the truth. They should mainly look at whether a person loves positive things, whether they are able to accept the truth, and whether they can submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, as well as the path that they choose and walk, and classify what kind of person they are, and what kind of humanity they have based on these things. It is just too easy for aberrations and errors to arise when people judge others based on the standard of “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others.” If you wrongly discern and view a person based upon principles and sayings that come from man, then you will be violating the truth and resisting God in that matter. Why is this? The reason is that the basis for your views on people will be wrong, and incompatible with the words of God and the truth—it may even be in opposition to and contrary to them. God does not evaluate people’s humanity based upon the statement about moral conduct, “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others,” so if you still insist on judging people’s morality and determining what kind of person they are according to this criterion, then you have completely violated the principles of the truth, and you are bound to make errors, and to cause some mistakes and deviations. Is this not the case? (It is.) Once people comprehend these things, they will at least have a certain level of understanding of the basis, principles, and criteria by which God views people and things—you will at least have an understanding and appreciation of God’s approach to these things. So, what about from your perspective? You should at least know what the correct basis for viewing a person is, and which criterion for viewing people is in keeping with the truth and the actual facts, and will absolutely not lead to any errors or deviations. If you really become clear on these matters, you will have discernment of these aspects of traditional culture, as well as man’s various statements, theories, and ways of viewing other people, and you will be able to thoroughly relinquish these aspects of traditional culture, and all of the different sayings and views that derive from man. In this way, you will view and discern people based on the principles of the truth, and, to a certain extent, you will be compatible with God, and you will not rebel against, resist, or run counter to Him. As you gradually achieve compatibility with God, you will develop an increasingly clear insight into the essences of people and things, and you will find confirmation of this in God’s words. You will see that God’s various statements that expose mankind, and His characterizations and definitions of mankind are all right, and that they are all the truth. Of course, as you find confirmation of this, you will gain more and more faith and knowledge of God and His words, and you will become increasingly certain that God’s words are the truth and the reality that man ought to live out. Is this not what the process of accepting and attaining the truth consists of? (Yes.) This is the process of accepting and attaining the truth.
The goal of pursuing the truth is to accept the truth as one’s life. When people are able to accept the truth, their inner humanity and life begin to gradually transform, and, in the end, this transformation is their reward. In the past, you viewed people and things according to traditional culture, but now you have realized that this was wrong, and you will no longer view things from that perspective, or view any person based on what traditional culture dictates. So, on what basis will you now view people and things? If you do not know, it proves that you still have not accepted the truth. If you already know which principles of the truths you should view people and things according to, if you can accurately and clearly state your basis, path, criteria, and principles, and if you can also discern and approach people according to these principles of the truth, then the truth has already begun to take effect within you, it is guiding your thoughts and dominating the perspective from which you view people and things. This proves that the truth has already taken root in you and become your life. So, how will the effect that the truth has on you ultimately help you? Will it not influence how you comport yourself, the path that you choose, and your direction in life? (Yes.) If it is able to influence how you comport yourself and the path that you walk, then will it not then influence your relationship with God? (It will.) What result will come from the truth influencing your relationship with God? Will you become closer or more distant? (I will become closer with God.) You will certainly become closer with Him. When you become closer with God, will you be more willing to follow Him and to bow down before Him, or will you reluctantly believe in His existence while hampered by doubts and misunderstandings? (I will be willing to follow God and to bow down before Him.) That is certain. Now, how will you achieve this willingness? You will find confirmation of God’s words in your real life; the truth will begin to take effect in you, and you will find confirmation of it. In the process of the unfolding of all things, the hidden source of all these things will be confirmed within you and you will find it to be entirely consistent with God’s words. You will verify that God’s words are all the truth, and this will increase your faith in God. The more faith you have in God, the more normal your relationship with Him will become, you will be increasingly willing to act as a created being, and willing to take God as your Sovereign, and the parts of you that submit to God will increase in number. What do you think about this improvement in your relationship? It is great, is it not? This is the result of a good and positive course of development. Then, what will the consequences of a bad and malignant course of development be? (Your faith in God’s existence will become increasingly weak, and you will have misunderstandings and doubts about God.) At the very least, these will be the consequences. You will not receive confirmation in any matters, and you will not only fail to attain the truth in your faith, you will also form all kinds of notions—you will misunderstand, reproach, and guard against God, and you will ultimately deny Him. If you deny God in your heart, will you still be able to follow Him? (No.) You will no longer wish to follow Him. Subsequently, what will occur? You will lose interest in what God does and says. When God says, “The end of mankind is in sight,” you will reply, “I don’t see anything!” You will not believe Him. When God says, “You will gain a good destination after pursuing the truth,” you will reply, “Where is this good destination You speak of? I don’t see it!” You will be disinterested. When God says, “You must act like a true created being,” you will reply, “Is there any benefit to acting like a true created being? How many blessings can I attain from it? Can I really attain blessings from doing that? Is it related to attaining blessings?” When God says, “You must accept and submit to God’s sovereignty!” you will reply, “What sovereignty? Why can’t I feel God’s sovereignty? If God really does reign sovereign, why has He allowed me to live in poverty? Why has He allowed me to fall ill? If God reigns sovereign, why are things always so difficult for me?” Your heart will be full of complaints, and you will not believe anything that God says. This will demonstrate your lack of true faith in God. And that is why, while encountering various issues, all you will do is complain, without the slightest degree of obedience. That is how you will arrive at this malignant outcome. Some people say, “Since God reigns sovereign, He ought to help me to recover from my illness immediately. He ought to help me to achieve all that I wish. Why is my life now filled with inconveniences and suffering?” They have lost their faith in God, and they are left without even the slightest trace of the vague faith that they once had—it has completely disappeared. This is the malignant consequence and evil result of all this. Do you want to get to this point? (No.) How can you avoid stooping to this level? You must put in effort when it comes to the truth—the key and pathway for all of this lie in the truth and in God’s words. If you put in effort when it comes to God’s words and the truth, without knowing it, you will begin to see the path that God has taught you and guided you to more clearly, and you will see the essence of the people, events, and things that God orchestrates. Through every step of this experience, you will gradually discover the principles and basis for viewing people and things, and for comporting yourself and acting within God’s words. By accepting and coming to understand the truth, you will find the principles and paths of practice in the people, events, and things that you encounter. If you practice according to these paths, God’s words will enter you and become your life, and without realizing it, you will start to live under God’s sovereignty and orchestrations. When you live under God’s sovereignty and orchestrations, you will unconsciously learn how to view people and things according to God’s words, and you will view things from the proper stance, perspective, and outlook; the outcomes of your views on things will be in keeping with God’s words and the truth, and they will allow you to grow ever closer to God and to thirst ever more for the truth. However, if you do not pursue the truth, or put in effort regarding the truth, and if you have no interest in the truth, then it is hard to say what point you will end up reaching. Ultimately, the worst possible outcome is when people fail to see the actions of God or to feel His sovereignty, no matter how they try to believe in Him; it is when they fail to perceive God’s omnipotence and wisdom, no matter how many things they experience. In such cases, people will only acknowledge that the words that God expresses are the truth, but they will see no hope of their being saved, much less will they see that God’s disposition is righteous and holy, and they will always feel that their faith in God is hazy. This goes to show that they did not attain the truth or God’s salvation, and that they gained nothing at all after believing in God for years. This concludes My fellowship on the third saying: “Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others.”
What is the fourth statement on moral conduct? (Requite evil with good.) Do people harbor certain intentions when they requite evil with good? Are they not taking a step back in order to make things easier for themselves? Is this not a conciliatory way of dealing with things? People do not want to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of revenge, they wish to smooth things over so that they can live a bit more peacefully. A person’s life is not particularly long, and whether they live to be a hundred years old or several hundred years old, they find their lives to be short. All day, they preoccupy themselves with thoughts of revenge and slaughter, their inner worlds are filled with turmoil, and they live unhappy lives. So, they try to find a way to live a happier, more joyful life, and to treat themselves right—which is requiting evil with good. It is inevitable that people will offend each other and be the victims of each other’s schemes during their lives, they are always plagued by vengeful and bitter emotions, and they live out quite poor existences, so, for the sake of the social climate and social stability and unity, with that as their motivation, moralists promote this moral criterion to the world. They caution people not to requite evil with evil, and to refrain from hatred and slaughter, urging people instead to learn to requite evil with good. They say that even if someone harmed you in the past, you should not take revenge on them, but rather you should help them, forget their past wrongdoings, interact with them normally, and slowly reform them, defusing the enmity between you, and achieving a harmonious relationship. Will this not lead to harmony in society overall? They say that no matter who has offended you, be it a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker, you must requite their evil with good, and refrain from holding grudges. They claim that if everyone is able to do this, it will be just like how people say: “If everyone gives a little bit of love, the world will become a wonderful place.” Are these claims not based on imaginings? A wonderful place? As if! Take a look at who it is that runs this world and who it is that corrupts mankind. What change can the statement about moral conduct, “Requite evil with good,” really achieve? It cannot change anything. Like the others, this statement places certain demands on people’s moral quality, or enforces certain regulations on them. It requires that they refrain from resorting to hatred and slaughter when faced with hatred and slaughter from other people, and that they treat the people who harm them calmly, with an even temper, and use their moral conduct to defuse that enmity and slaughter, and to lessen the amount of bloodshed. This saying about moral conduct is, of course, effective on people to a certain degree; it can quell enmity and resentment, and reduce murders of revenge, to a certain extent; and it can have a certain degree of positive effect on the social climate, public order, and social harmony, but what preconditions are there for this saying to have that effect? There are significant preconditions in terms of the social environment. One is the normal reason and judgment that people possess. People think: “Is this person that I want to take revenge on more or less powerful than me? If I take revenge on them, will I be able to achieve my goal? If I take my revenge and kill them, will I be signing my own death warrant?” They first weigh up the consequences. After thinking things over, most people realize: “They are well connected, they have a lot of social influence, and they are vicious and cruel, so even though they have harmed me, I can’t seek revenge on them. I must silently swallow the insult. But if I do ever get a chance to get revenge on them in this life, I will take it.” As the popular sayings go, “He who does not seek revenge is not a man” and “It is never too late for a gentleman to take revenge.” People still harbor these kinds of philosophies for living. The philosophy for living of requiting evil with good is held by people, in one respect, because it is directly connected to the social environment and to the deep corruption of man—it arose due to people’s notions and the judgments of their reason. When most people encounter these kinds of situations, they can only swallow the insults silently, and outwardly practice requiting evil with good, putting aside their hatred and vendettas. Another reason why people hold to this philosophy for living, is that in some cases there is a large imbalance of power between the two parties involved, so the wronged party does not dare to seek revenge, and they are forced to requite evil with good, as there is nothing else they can do. If they were to take revenge, they might endanger the lives of their entire family, and the consequences of that are unimaginable. In such cases, people find it preferable to just go on living by swallowing the insult. However, in so doing, have they overcome their resentment? Is any person capable of forgetting a grudge? (No.) Especially in cases of very serious grudges, for example when someone has killed your close kin and ruined your family, and brought shame upon your name, leading you to develop deep enmity toward them—no one can let a grudge like that go. This is a part of humanity and it is something that humanity cannot overcome. People instinctively develop feelings of hatred in such situations—this is quite normal. No matter whether they arise due to hot-headedness, instinct, or conscience, in any case, it is a normal response. Even dogs grow close to people who treat them well and regularly feed or help them, and they begin to trust them, while despising those that abuse and mistreat them—and that is not all, they will even despise people who smell or sound like their abusers. You see, even dogs possess this instinct, to say nothing of people! Given that people have much more complex minds than animals, it is perfectly normal for them to feel enmity when faced with revenge killing or unjust treatment. However, for several reasons and due to particular circumstances, people are often forced to make concessions and swallow insults, and put up with things temporarily—but this does not mean that they desire to or are capable of requiting evil with good. What I have just said is based on the perspective of humanity and man’s instinctual reactions. If we look at this now from the perspective of objective facts about society—if someone did not requite evil with good, and instead took revenge and committed murder, what would the consequences be? They would be held legally responsible, they might be detained, sentenced to jail time, and even possibly given the death penalty. Based on this, we can conclude that, whether it be from the perspective of humanity or the restrictive power of society and the law, when people are met with unjust treatment and revenge killing, not a single person is capable of striking hatred from their minds or from the depths of their heart. Even when falling victim to slight harms like being verbally attacked, ridiculed, or mocked, people are still unable to requite evil with good. Is the ability to requite evil with good a normal manifestation of humanity? (No.) So, when a person is being bullied or harmed, what does their humanity need and demand, at the very minimum? Would any person cheerfully and happily say: “Go ahead and bully me! You are powerful and evil, you can bully me however you want, and I will requite your evil with good. You will get a strong sense of my noble character and morality, and I certainly will not take revenge on you or develop any opinions about you. I won’t get angry at you—I’ll just take it all as a joke. No matter how much the things that you say insult my character, hurt my pride, or damage my interests, it’s all fine and you should feel free to say whatever you like.” Do such people exist? (No.) Absolutely no one is truly capable of letting go of their grudges—they are already doing well if they can go a while without killing their enemy in revenge. So, no one is truly capable of requiting evil with good, and even if people do practice this moral conduct, it will be because they were forced to act in that way due to the constraints of specific circumstances at the time, or because the whole instance was actually fabricated and fictional. Under normal circumstances, when people fall prey to serious persecution or abuse, they will form grudges and become vengeful. The only circumstance in which someone might not be aware of or respond to their own hatred would be if that hatred was too great, and they suffered such a serious shock, that they ended up losing their memory or their wits. But any person who has normal humanity and reason would not want to be treated with insults, discrimination, disparagement, derision, taunting, mockery, harm, and so on, or someone going so far as to trample on and violate their character and dignity; no person would be happy to insincerely repay those who previously offended or harmed them with moral conduct—no one is capable of doing that. Thus, this claim concerning moral conduct of requiting evil with good appears very weak, anemic, empty and meaningless to corrupted mankind.
If we look at this from the perspective of the conscience and reason of normal humanity, no matter how corrupt a person is, and regardless of whether they are an evil person or a person possessed of relatively good humanity, they all hope that others will treat them well and with a basic level of respect. If someone started flattering and fawning over you for no reason, would that make you happy? Would you like that? (No.) Why would you not like that? Would you feel as though you were being fooled? You would think: “Do I look like a three-year-old to you? How am I failing to understand why you feel the need to say these things to me? Am I as good as you say? Did I do any of those things? What is all this foolish flattery for? How are you not disgusted with yourself?” People do not like to hear words of flattery, and they take them to be a kind of insult. Other than a baseline of respect, how else do people wish others will treat them? (With sincerity.) Asking people to treat others with sincerity would be impossible—if they refrain from bullying others, that is already quite good. Asking people not to bully each other is a comparatively objective demand. People hope that others will respect them, not bully them and, most importantly, treat them fairly. They hope that others will not harass them when they are vulnerable, or ostracize them when their faults are exposed, or constantly flatter and fawn over them. People find these kinds of behaviors disgusting and just wish to be treated fairly—is that not the case? Treating others fairly is a relatively positive ideal in the world of man and in the realm of man’s thinking. Why do I say that? Think about it: Why do people all like Bao Zheng? People love watching depictions of Bao Zheng deciding cases even though these cases are fictional and completely fabricated. Why do people still enjoy them? Why are they still willing to watch them? Because, in their ideal world, in the realm of their thinking, and in the depths of their hearts, they all wish for a positive and slightly better world. They wish that man could live in a relatively fair and just social environment, in a world in which everyone is guaranteed this. That way, at the very least, when you are harassed by evil forces, there would be a place where justice is upheld, where you could file a complaint about your grievances, where you would have the right to complain, and ultimately, where some light would be shed on the injustices that you have suffered. In this society and mankind, there would be a place where you could clear your name, and protect yourself from ever suffering any humiliation or shouldering any grievances. Is this not man’s ideal society? Is this not what every person pines for? (Yes.) This is every person’s dream. People hope that they will be treated fairly—they do not wish to be the subject of any unfair treatment, or to have nowhere to complain if they are treated unfairly, and they find that very distressing. It can be said that the standard and demand placed on man’s moral conduct of “Requite evil with good” is far removed from the reality of mankind’s corruption in real life. And so, this demand placed on man’s moral conduct does not come close to man’s will, and it is far removed from objective fact and from real life. It is a statement proposed by idealists who have no understanding of the inner worlds of the underprivileged people who have been wronged and humiliated—these idealists have no sense of the extent to which these people have been wronged, and their dignity and characters insulted, or even how much their own personal safety has been under threat. They do not understand those realities, and yet they still demand that these victims reconcile with their assailants and refrain from taking revenge on them, saying things like: “You were born to be mistreated and you must accept your fate. You were born into the lowest class of society and you are made of the stuff of slaves. You were born to be ruled over by others—you should not take revenge against those who harmed you, and you should instead requite evil with good. You should do your part for the good of the social climate and societal harmony, and contribute to society by displaying your positive energy and your best moral conduct.” This is all clearly said in order to excuse the exploitation of the lower classes by the upper echelons of society and the ruling classes, to provide them with this convenience, and to quiet the hearts and emotions of the underprivileged on their behalf. Is this not the objective of saying such things? (Yes.) If every country’s legal and social systems, and the systems and regulations of every race and clan were fair and strictly enforced, would it still be necessary to promote this unobjective saying that runs contrary to the laws of humanity? It would not be necessary. The saying “Requite evil with good” has clearly just been promoted as an avenue and a convenience for the ruling classes and those evil people who possess authority and power to exploit and trample on the underprivileged. At the same time, in order to placate the underprivileged classes and prevent them from seeking revenge or becoming hostile toward the rich, the elites, and the ruling class, these so-called thinkers and educators position themselves at the pinnacle of moral supremacy, promoting this saying under the pretense of requiring that everyone practices good moral conduct. Does this not create even more contradictions within society? The more you suppress people, the more unfair society proves to be. If society was truly fair and just, would it still be necessary to judge and place demands on people’s moral conduct using this saying? This is clearly due to the fact that there is no justice in society or among mankind. If evildoers could be punished by the law, or if those with money and power were also answerable to the law, then the saying, “Requite evil with good,” would be invalid and would not exist. How many common people would be able to harm an official? How many poor people would be able to do harm to the rich? That would be difficult for them to achieve. Thus, the saying, “Requite evil with good,” is clearly aimed at the common people, the poor, and the lower classes—it is an immoral and unjust saying. For instance, if you demanded that a government official requite evil with good, they would say to you: “What evil do I have to requite? Who would dare to mess with me? Who would dare to offend me? Who would dare to say ‘no’ to me? I will kill whoever says no to me—I’ll exterminate their whole family and every one of their relatives!” See, there is no evil for officials to requite, so the saying, “Requite evil with good,” does not even exist to them. If you say to them: “You must practice this moral conduct of requiting evil with good, you must possess this moral conduct,” they will reply: “Sure, I can do that.” This is a deceptive lie, through and through. In any case, “Requite evil with good” is essentially just a saying promoted by social moralists as a way of placating the lower classes, and even more than that, it is a saying that is promoted in order to enslave the lower classes. It is promoted to further stabilize the authority of the ruling class, to court the favor of the ruling class, and to perpetuate the enslavement of the lower classes, so that they will not complain even if they are enslaved for generations. From this we can see that, in this kind of society, the laws and systems are clearly unjust; this kind of society is not governed by the truth, and it is not ruled by the truth, justice, or righteousness. Instead, it is governed by man’s evil and power, regardless of who serve as officials. If the common people were to serve as officials, the situation would be just the same. This is the essence of this social system. “Requite evil with good” exposes this fact. The phrase clearly has a certain political quality to it—it is a demand placed on man’s moral conduct in order to strengthen the ruling classes’ domination and enslavement of the lower classes.
Not only is the demand that people requite evil with good not in keeping with the normal needs or demands of humanity, or the character and dignity of humanity, naturally, it is much less a proper standard for evaluating the quality of a person’s humanity. This demand is so far removed from actual humanity; it is not just that it is unachievable, it should never have been promoted in the first place. It is just a saying and a strategy employed by the ruling class to strengthen their rule and control over the masses. Naturally, God has never promoted this kind of saying, whether it be in the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, or the current Age of Kingdom, and God has never used this kind of method, saying, or demand as a basis for evaluating the quality of people’s humanity. This is because, regardless of whether someone is moral or immoral, and no matter how good or bad their moral conduct may be, God only considers their essence—these sayings about moral conduct just do not exist in God’s purview. Thus, the saying about moral conduct, “Requite evil with good,” is invalid in God’s house, and it is not worthy of analysis. Regardless of whether you requite evil with good, or requite evil with vengeance, how should believers in God view the matter of “requiting evil”? With what attitude and from what viewpoint should they view and approach this matter? If someone commits an act of evil in the church, God’s house has its own administrative decrees and principles for handling that person—there is no need for anyone to take vengeance for the victim or to defend them against injustice. There is no need for that in God’s house, and the church will naturally handle the problem according to the principles. This is a fact that can be both observed and encountered by people. To put it very clearly and precisely: The church has principles for handling people and God’s house has administrative decrees. What about God, then? With regard to God, any person who does evil will be punished accordingly, and God will dictate when and how they are punished. God’s principles of punishment are absolutely inseparable from His disposition and essence. God has a righteous and unoffendable disposition, He has majesty and wrath, and all who commit evil will be punished accordingly by Him. This is far greater than the laws of man, it surpasses humanity and all of the secular laws. Not only is it fair, reasonable, and in keeping with the desires of humanity, it also does not require everyone’s plaudits and affirmation. It does not require you to judge matters from the pinnacle of moral supremacy. When God does these things, He has His own principles and timing. It should be left up to God to act as He may, and people should refrain from interfering, as this has nothing to do with them. What does God ask of people with regard to the matter of “requiting evil”? That they do not act or take revenge on other people out of hot-headedness. What should you do if someone offends you, harasses you, or even wishes to harm you? Are there principles for handling such things? (Yes.) There are solutions and principles for these things, and a basis in God’s words and the truth. Regardless of anything else, the saying about moral conduct, “Requite evil with good,” is also not a standard by which to judge the quality of people’s humanity. At most, if someone is capable of requiting evil with good, it can be said that they are relatively tolerant, simple, good-natured, and magnanimous, that they are not petty, and that they are possessed of passable moral conduct. However, can the quality of this person’s humanity be evaluated and judged on the basis of this one saying? No, absolutely not. One must also take into account what they pursue, the path they walk, and their attitude toward the truth and positive things, and so on. That is the only way to accurately judge whether or not they have humanity.
This concludes our fellowship for today.
March 26, 2022